News article 4 mins read

Celebrating international trade at the House of Lords

Each year UKAS holds its flagship stakeholder event in the beautiful and inspiring surroundings of the House of Lords. The 2023 event was held at the start of June and was very well attended by individuals representing a range of organisations from UK government, the UKAS membership and the broader quality industry, along with experts in international trade. 

The theme of the event aligned with that of World Accreditation Day (also occurring in June) and focused on ‘supporting the future of global trade.’ 

UKAS’s Chairman, Lord Jamie Lindsay introduced the event and our partners for the day, BSI and the Institute of Export and International Trade, acknowledging the important role they play in facilitating trade, economic growth and external investment into the UK. Such efforts are supported by testing, inspection, certification, calibration and validation & verification services, which have been accredited against nationally and internationally agreed standards to provide confidence in the quality of goods and services. 

Lord Lindsay referenced the vital role played by the mutual recognition agreements of which UKAS is a signatory, from the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC). Such agreements help to reduce unnecessary barriers to trade and can aid the removal of requirements for testing or certification that can be duplicated in different jurisdictions. Lord Lindsay also emphasised the role mutual recognition has played in the delivery of new free trade agreements between the UK and other nations including Australia and New Zealand, as well as the conformity assessment agreement with Switzerland.  

Following Lord Lindsay’s introduction, the first of our keynote speakers for the day was Kevin Hollinrake MP, Minster for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business at the Department for Business and Trade.  

Touching on the recent creation of the Department for Business and Trade from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kevin explained this strategy demonstrates a wider end-to-end remit, which will help businesses make the transition from small to medium and from SME to larger organisations. 

Kevin discussed the role the UK’s national quality infrastructure (NQI), of which UKAS is a part, plays in protecting consumers whilst giving businesses confidence to trade and grow. The NQI provides an important aspect for businesses of all sizes – that of a fair and level playing field upon which they can trade. With only 10-11% of UK businesses exporting their goods and services, there is an opportunity to expand and the UKQI helps ensure businesses operate in a safe and environmentally friendly way whilst promoting their interests within international bodies, at the same time as supporting UK government priorities. 

Kevin ended his speech with a request for his audience to think collectively about what we can do to ensure the UK remains safe whilst also promoting the confidence to grow and thrive. 

The second of our keynote speakers was Hanane Taidi, Director General of the TIC Council, who began her speech with a question: why should we care about the UK’s NQI? Hanane answered that question by illustrating how the NQI is fundamentally embedded in all aspects of our daily lives. On a broader scale the NQI can be a catalyst for international trade and a trigger for peace amongst nations. 

The UK’s departure from the European Union has created fundamental changes in the way the UK trades with Europe and accreditation plays a crucial role in supporting businesses, helping them navigate through the complexities of that changing environment to pursue trade with confidence. Hanane emphasised that healthy international trade is built on the common foundations of trust, credibility, and reliability, which is fundamentally what is provided by the testing, inspection and certification sector. 

These three speeches were followed by a networking event within the splendid Cholmondeley Room and Terrace overlooking the river Thames. Whilst the weather was very pleasant, we bucked our trend of picking the hottest day of the year, which certainly made the event more comfortable, luckily so as we had over 150 delegates in attendance. 

UKAS would like to thank our speakers Lord Lindsay, Kevin Hollinrake and Hanane Taidi for their thought-provoking insight, and also to everyone who attended, helping to make this event so vibrant and enjoyable.